Skin cancer

How does skin cancer develop?

Skin cancer in general is understood to mean the pathological transformation of healthy skin cells into tumor cells. A distinction is made between the different forms of skin cancer, depending on the cells from which this process originates. One of the most dangerous and frequent triggers for skin cancer is the UV radiation from sunlight. Viral (e.g. HPV viruses), chemical factors (arsenic, tar components) or radiation therapy can also be the cause of skin cancer.

What are the most common forms of skin cancer?

Basal cell carcinoma (syn. basalioma) and squamous cell carcinoma are the most common forms and are also referred to as “white skin cancer”. Melanoma with its various manifestations is often referred to as “black skin cancer”.

Schulterbereich eines Mannes von Hinten. Er greift sich auf die Haut, die mit Muttermalen übersäht ist.


How does white skin cancer develop?

The “white skin cancer” usually develops in advanced age through a gradual change in the upper layers of the skin. The cumulative sun damage over the years plays a major role here. People, especially those with fair skin (skin type 1-2), who have had frequent sunburns in the past, are more likely to develop white skin cancer than those who are well protected from the sun’s rays.

Classification of skin types according to Fitzpatrick

Skin type Typical feature Tanning ability
I pale white skin; red or blond hair; blue/green eyes; freckles Always gets sunburned, never tans
II Light skin; red or blond hair; blue, hazel, or green eyes Sunburns easily, tans with difficulty
III medium skin tone; any eye or hair color Sometimes gets sunburnt, slowly tans
IV Light brown skin Rarely gets sunburned, tans easily
V Brown skin Hardly ever gets sunburned, tans very quickly
VI Dark brown or black skin Never gets sunburned, always tans very quickly

How do you spot white skin cancer?

Early forms (actinic keratoses) become noticeable as small, reddened skin with scales or rough skin areas that do not heal completely over weeks and months. Other forms begin as small, pearly, skin-colored nodules (basal cell carcinoma) or as heavily keratinized and rupturing tumors (squamous cell carcinoma). White skin cancer often occurs on skin areas that are particularly exposed to the sun (e.g. face, receding hairline, décolleté, forearms and lower legs, etc.).

How do you treat white skin cancer?

The “white skin cancer” is treated with different procedures and therapies depending on the form, progress, size, and location. This includes minimally invasive treatments with topical preparations (creams, gels), as well as photodynamic therapy and surgical removal.


What is a melanoma and how does it develop?

Melanoma (“black skin cancer”) is a malignant tumor that originates from pigment cells (melanocytes) and can occur at any age.
Melanomas can develop on any part of the skin, i.e. on the mucous membranes (e.g. mouth, genital area) as well as on hairy skin areas (e.g. hairy scalp) or on special locations such as nails or eyes.

A melanoma can develop spontaneously from a pre-existing birthmark or from a previously healthy area of skin. Especially in light-skinned people, increased exposure to the sun is causing melanoma to form more and more frequently on sun-exposed skin areas.

How do you spot a melanoma?

Changes in the shape, size and color of the skin (e.g. a birthmark) are suspicious. Frequent itching or lesions that repeatedly break open or bleed are also suspicious and urgently require further clarification.

How is melanoma treated?

A suspicious lesion should primarily be surgically removed immediately with the necessary safety margin. Depending on the histological findings, a re-excision, and a puncture of the sentinel lymph node (sentinel lymph node biopsy) may also be necessary. Further supporting measures such as chemotherapy or immunotherapy, but also the lymph node biopsy should always be carried out in specialized centers!

Was kann man vorbeugend gegen Hautkrebs tun?

Consistent UV protection, with the highest possible sun protection factor (SPF 50+), is certainly one of the most important measures, and this onwards from childhood.

This can examine the entire skin with special equipment for changes. Suspicious skin changes can be assessed particularly thoroughly using a digital reflected -light microscope with up to 70x magnification. Digital photo documentation helps to be able to assess suspicious changes (e.g. birthmarks) at a later point in time.

Congenital moles (congenital melanocytic nevus), which can often also be large and hairy, should be checked regularly.

Individual consultation

Individual consultation: We would be happy to consult you extensively on the individual examinations and treatment options in one of our offices. You are also welcome to schedule an appointment online.